Preliminary clearing begins for new transmission line to serve Savannah area

Georgia Transmission Corporation (GTC) has begun initial clearing for a new 115-kV transmission line in the area west of Savannah, Ga.

The Burnt Church to Tradeport Industrial Park line will run approximately 12.2 miles and will connect two substations, in Bryan County and Liberty County respectively, to strengthen the area’s grid.

“The Burnt Church substation and the Tradeport Industrial Park substation are radial substations; they’re out there being fed by just one line,” a GTC spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 25. “This line will connect the two of them and it will close that gap in the grid for reliability and contingency purposes.”

In addition, the area is experiencing high growth, including pending expansion of the Port of Savannah, so the line will provide additional capacity for the area’s transmission system.

The project has been in the works since 2008, the spokesperson said. Although the project will parallel Interstate 95 for approximately 8.5 miles, or two-thirds of its length, the company still had environmental challenges to overcome, the spokesperson said.

“There is a salt marsh and there are also heritage reserve properties, so there was a lengthy permit process involved,” the spokesperson said. However, all the necessary permits have been issued, with the governor signing the final permit this summer.

Clearing is expected to take place through the end of the year, after which GTC’s contractor will use construction techniques that will have minimal impacts on the environment.

“All of the trees will be taken out and the poles brought into the salt marsh by helicopter,” the spokesperson said. “We will also use a low ground pressure swamp buggy to get crews around, but all of the transport of the poles will be done by helicopter.”

The line will be supported on steel poles that will be assembled in sections. Instead of direct-bore drilling techniques, each bottom section will be set by a tool that will vibrate the section until it moves through the soft soil of the marsh and reaches solid earth.

“Once the bottom sections are placed, the helicopter will place the remaining sections on those that have been embedded in the ground,” the spokesperson said.

GHC expects to award a construction contract by the end of November. Construction will begin in January 2013.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-2013 at a cost of approximately $14.4m.